Four Oregon political leaders released a letter Friday condemning “acts of hate and violence” committed in Portland, presumably a nod to the continued incursion of violent political groups into the city.
The letter was the first public comment by any of the region’s top political leaders since last Sunday’s protests in Portland. Armed far-right groups once again clashed with counterprotesters downtown, lobbing paintballs and fireworks without police intervention. One man patrolled downtown streets pointing what looked like a rifle at passersby. Police later identified the weapon as an airsoft rifle. The man, identified by police as Mark Lee, was arrested Thursday evening.
The letter — signed by Gov. Kate Brown, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Metro President Lynn Peterson, and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler — was vague and did not directly address the protests last weekend. Instead, the leaders emphasized their general displeasure that the city continued to be used as a staging ground for violent political brawls.
“The threat and use of violence against people and the destruction of property to further bigoted political or social objectives undermines our growing commitment to a truly inclusive community,” the letter stated. “That is why we loudly reject violent anti-democratic incursions seeking to use Portland as a national stage to instill fear and promote bias violence in our city and beyond.”
Portlanders are bracing for another day of clashing protests on August 22nd, the one-year anniversary of a violent political brawl downtown that went on for hours without police intervention. The city is once again expecting armed far-right groups to pour into the city and counterprotesters have been circulating flyers vowing to “fight back.”
The political leaders said Friday they are unified “against these acts of hate and violence,” but did not specify in the letter any steps they were taking to ensure protests slated for next weekend would not turn violent. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has, in the past, declared a state of emergency in Portland ahead of far-right rallies that were expected to draw a crowd.
In the letter, the leaders pledged only to work together to “use the resources of our institutions” to keep Portlanders safe and condemn political violence when they see it.
“We will speak out loudly and strongly when this City is targeted and assaulted by groups and individuals driven by cynicism and bigotry,” they wrote.
The mayor’s office has not responded to requests for comment from OPB about last weekend’s protests.